“Rare Hispanic Politician Reaches Higher”
Hispanics — 53-million strong — are represented at all levels of American society, business, professions, street and homeless populations, criminal gangs, law enforcement and some even in politics. They are everywhere. They live in big cities, small towns or rural agricultural districts. Wherever they live, they provide manpower and energy that make economies hum, run and produce.
But few Hispanics are active in government and politics, especially high level politics. Around 5,800 Hispanics hold elected public office in the U.S. according to NALEO, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.
Considering though that it wasn’t too long ago the Mexican American citizens were not permitted to vote, serve on juries or hold government jobs in Texas, for example, and Puerto Ricans on the island can’t vote in federal elections (but can on the mainland) the governors of New Mexico and Nevada are Mexican Americans today.
A hundred years ago, New Mexico entered the United States and promptly elected a Mexican American Governor and U.S. Senator. Before that, California had elected Mexican American state legislators, a Mexican American state controller, Lt. Governor (who inherited the Governorship), a congressman who went on to be the first Mexican American – Hispanic – United States ambassador to several foreign countries.
All told, there might be 250 Hispanic state legislators throughout the country; there are a handful of Hispanic congress people including two U.S. Senators, Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) and 24 congressmen seven of which are women..
Of course, some Hispanic Presidentially-appointed cabinet officers in the succession line for President have and are serving with the highest ranking Hispanic government officer ever being President Bush’s Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. Few Hispanics have ever jumped off the newspaper front page as a politician of real consequence (Rubio and Governors Sandoval (R-NV) and Martinez (R-New Mexico, notwithstanding) until today.
A Puerto Rican born, Mormon raised and educated (Brigham Young University) small town immigration lawyer from Idaho (Idaho?) surprised the political world when he defeated a popular candidate for congress in 2010 as a Tea Party supported Republican.
Raul L. Labrador, Esq., is his name.
He surprised the political world again this last Friday when he announced his candidacy for the Congress’ and Republican Party’s Majority Leader of the House, a job being vacated by primary-defeated Eric Cantor. The election is Thursday, June 19th just a week after Cantor resigned.
He is running against California Congressman Kevin McCarthy, perhaps the most popular congressman in the Republican House.
Labrador will probably lose. He will lose not because he isn’t popular or well known, or qualified, he will lose because there is no conservative cabal large enough to beat the Establishment in its own house. For 224 years, Congress– which respects length of service, seniority more than any other institution in the Republic, Congress is spelled E-S-T-A-B-L-I-S-H-M-E-N-T.
Certainly the Steve King (R-Iowa) and Michelle Bachman (R-MN) and several Southern congressman (the kind that used to keep Blacks and Hispanics from voting) cabal of Neanderthal congress people will rant and rave without proof that this Hispanic (they actually mean “spic”) supports the hated immigration “amnesty” of their nightmares.
Nonetheless, he is all conservatives have. He will receive three to six dozen votes but that is all and that is not enough. McCarthy will win.
McCarthy has publically called for immigration reform; 30% of his Bakersfield, California district is Mexican American and they have helped elect him to the California state legislature and to Congress.
His assuming the Majority Leader job is a step forward to delivering what a majority of Americans want, immigration reform.
Labrador will make contributions by being an honest challenger in this case to the Establishment if he does not burn any political bridges. If he stays cool and ignores King and Bachman and their Loony Tunes friends, Hispanic Raul L. Labrador has a future in Congress and the Republican Party for the Republicans are going to control the House of Representatives and maybe the Senate for years to come.
Contreras formerly wrote for the New American News Service of the New York Times